What do y'all use to take pictures for observations?

Oh, since you’re a professional diver using the TG-6, could I ask you about its waterproof depth performance? I’ve just got my open water certification and am also looking to observe wildlife underwater with my TG-6. I know it’s rated to 15m/50ft underwater, but I also know you can buy an underwater casing for it, so I assume at some depth it’s probably better to get the case just to be safe. Do you use any extra waterproofing accessories for the TG-6 on deeper dives and how do those impact image quality, if at all? Or do you just not take it below a certain depth?

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I’ve found that for most of my plant observations, my iPhone 13 works better than a proper camera, although I’m still a beginner with the camera so that could be why. The iPhone does have some quality issues so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. For observations of things I can’t photograph with my phone, like tiny and/or far-away animals, I have had some success with my mom’s Nikon camera and a telephoto lens, but it’s hard to use and doesn’t have GPS. I’m hoping to get my own camera that’s better suited to my needs eventually.

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When I’m just going by my normal day, I just use the good old classic iPhone. Fantastic for plants and stationary organisms, good for insects and other small animals, while for birds it only really works if they’re fairly close or very recognizable. Honestly, I prefer using the phone to the camera when it comes to plants, just because I can easily get the important bits and I don’t really care to get pretty pics of them anyway.

However camera-wise, Nikon D5600 is the way to go with me, especially since it came in a kit of the starter lens (don’t use much today) and the AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED VR, my beloved telephoto lens. It’s fantastic for getting nice presentable shots of birds on the feeder and gets IDable pics from a good 100ish metres, maybe 200m, away. (obviously not presentable for a portfolio tho.) Luckily the entire kit was around 600ish euros (give or take 100), meaning the lens was off like 60% or more!

Meanwhile, with macro, Sigma MACRO 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM is the one I went with, due to the price , and the specs being suitable for me. I must say, after using the kit lens for some macro photography, a dedicated macro lens was so fresh and crisp, and has fully replaced the kit lens, so much so I barely use it (apart from when my family request certain types of pics) when out and about. It gets fantastic shots of features needed for ID on certain insects (like my more recent Miridae pics) with optimum quality.

However, I still need that flash diffuser…

Since animals are my go to subjects, those are the lenses I prioritized. As well, I’m more of a “if I get the shot, I get the shot” kind of person. First and formost, I am out getting good quality ID shots, and if I happen to get a shot that I find nice, I’ll clean that up more and admire it. :)

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My wife and I go out every day on a walk with the purpose of collecting photographs and observing nature, so we do make the most of it. I carry either a Nikon Z9 or Z7 II with the 500mm f/5.6 PF, Z 400mm f/4.5, Z 100-400 f/4.5-5.6, or Z 105mm macro. I’ve also used my iPhone for some close-up shots of plants when carrying one of the longer lenses (that 3 meter minimum distance on the 500mm isn’t great for small things!), but I’m rarely happy with the quality from it.

Definitely been thinking of the TG-6 for a more regular carry item, but I’m having a hard time justifying that when our focus is so often on more distant wildlife. Maybe the TG-7 will come out one day with more features to tempt me.

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A couple more comments

All cameras, including the ones built into cell phones, have a minimum focus distance – too close and it can’t focus at all. So getting closer won’t necessarily always allow you to get more detail. One solution for this, as mentioned by other participants in this thread, is to use clip-on macro lenses. These essentially work like a magnifying glass, but often mean you have to get very close indeed in order to focus (fine for plants, can be tricky for many insects).

Unless you have optical zoom (i.e., a mechanism that physically changes the way the light falls on the sensor), zooming in will generally mean a loss in image quality, because digital zoom essentially means that the camera is cropping a section of the full size image and enlarging it – it doesn’t allow the camera to capture more detail of that section.

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There are some previous threads on this topic and the TG-6 seems to always be a popular point of discussion in them :)
https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/olympus-tg-6-for-botanising-and-occasional-insects/32503
https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/looking-to-upgrade-my-nature-photography-camera/35258
https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/first-camera-recommendations/36317
https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/what-camera-should-i-buy/33199/4
https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/lens-for-small-insects-and-flowers/38299/3
https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/good-macro-shot-camera/11629
https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/good-cameras-for-nature-shots/1064

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Officially it’s rated to 15m without a housing. Depending on the housing that could be extended down to 60m…

Personally, I never take it in the water without a housing. I know it is waterproof and will work without one but I’d rather not expose it to saltwater unnecessarily. I would recommend getting a housing for it since 15m is a pretty shallow dive depth and would restrict your diving activities significantly. The Olympus housing is a popular choice. I opted for the Ikelite housing since it’s rated for deeper but in the end I found that while it kept my camera protected at its maximum depth the buttons seized past 40m making it unusable. I stick to the Ikelite because it what I’m used to now but both are good options.

Another good thing about the TG series is that since they’re waterproof without the housing, if there is ever a leak or housing issue underwater the camera will most likely survive it and live for another day.

I have seen people take them below 15m without a housing…and I’ve seen some of those people have no problems and some of them return with a broken camera. So I wouldn’t risk it!

Apart from the housing there’s no extra waterproofing accessories you need underwater. The housing will allow you to attached a tray/video light/strobes as well when you’re ready for that stuff.

Congratulations on your new dive certification btw! Feel free to shoot me a message if you have any diving/underwater equipment or photography questions in the future.

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At this point Olympus should just start paying me a sales commission… I’d make a decent living that’s for sure!

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I essentially have a scaled-down version of this set-up, minus the flash: a Sony 6400 with the Laowa 65 macro, which at the moment has been staying on my camera most of the time, unless I plan to be going somewhere there are likely to be distant birds (gulls/water birds/raptors) I want to photograph, in which case I will take the 18-135 kit lens which has a bit more reach. In either combination, it weighs in at ca. 750g, which I find quite manageable for carrying around all day.

But I’m mostly posting here because I want to rave about what an absolute gem the Laowa is – beautifully sharp, surprisingly compact, and quite reasonably priced for a macro lens. I love the 2x macro and the fact that it isn’t limited to exclusive macro use; it takes perfectly good pictures of more distant subjects as well. Overall, it’s a good allrounder for most of my usual iNatting needs (primarily plants and arthropods), though it isn’t much use for things like birds in flight.

It definitely is a more demanding lens in terms of the skill needed to use it effectively, and the lack of autofocus can be frustrating when trying to photograph fast-moving bees. However, the kit lens is also rather hit-and-miss under such circumstances even with autofocus, so I’m not sure my overall failure rate is necessarily all that much higher with the manual lens.

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I use one of 3 point and shoot cameras. I have an iPhone 11 but I really don’t like using it for photos and thus I seldom do so. Because, wherever I go, I always have one of my cameras with me. And binos. I have no trouble with these items on me.

I use older cameras b/c I got them long ago and they work so I keep using them.
Nikon P510 (I have not found a need for a zoom beyond about 50x; this one is 42x).
Canon SX50 (so zooms to 50x but I seldom do; image quality begins to decline at about 40x).
Panasonic Lumix fz1000 - awesome lens and a 20MP sensor (the others are 12MP).

I got all of these used from eBay over the years. I mostly carry the fz1000 now. It can zoom to about 32x. My day job is ornithology although either collections or ringing (banding here in the US) and I don’t care to photograph birds, in general. I use the zooming function mostly for arthropods that won’t sit still. Insects are currently my favorite photo subject.

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Phone only. I like to go light. I was talking to a fellow iNater about getting a camera and he said it would slow me way down once I started using it. My current phone is a Google Pixel 6 and I love the photo quality. I plan on getting a clip on macro lens to get better close up shots.

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I use a Sony A-68 and Sony 70-400mm G2 lens. The combo is the equivalent of 105-600mm on a full frame camera body, weighs only four pounds, focuses down to four feet away and can photograph just about anything from an 10-point buck down to a ladybug. Sony has abandoned this camera mount, but their newer APSC mirrorless cameras and 100-400mm G lens is very similar and will focus down to three feet away.

IMO, editing of your photos is as important as taking them. Using just the basics will make you photos much easier to ID.

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Personally, I use my Huawei Y6 2019 phone to take pictures of nature. Although it is not the best phone in terms of camera or photo quality, it does its job correctly.

Overall, it is quite effective and allows for quality zooms for macro photography. However, for photos of distant subjects such as birds, it is completely ineffective.

Despite this, I much prefer my phone to more traditional cameras which are often bulky and require a series of complex settings to be effective. Even though I am a naturalist, I am not a professional photographer.

That being said, it is important to note that everyone should choose the equipment that suits them best. What works for me may not work for other people. It is up to each person to find the equipment that best meets their needs and preferences.

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Well said. How does the quote go – " The best camera is the one you have with you to get the shot"?

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I feel seen! :heart_eyes:

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And this is an excellent example of how needs vary.

I’m guessing you photograph a lot of birds/mammals or butterflies/odonates, stuff like that?

See, a large portion of my observations are arthropods ranging from about 2 cm max to well under 1 cm, and I’m reading this and trying to imagine attempting to photograph springtails or capture relevant details of fast-moving 6mm bees from over a meter away while wielding a four-pound camera…

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Have a look at this thread https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/what-camera-do-you-use-for-nature-photography/28220.

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Less than 2 kilos, actually pretty small for taking macro photos.

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Yeah, full frame camera+teleish macro lens+extension tubes+raynox+twin flash+arms+diffuser can be much heavier than that.
I’d rather use small sensor+teleish macro+raynox+hotshoe flash+diffuser which won’t be as heavy, but still going to be like 1.5kg

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Just weighed my current setup with the kitchen scale. 2.3 kg for Nikon D300 + 105mm lens + macro ring light. Helps train my grip strength :slightly_smiling_face:

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